Airline food

Singapore Airlines joins farm-to-flight trend

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Where is the food and produce you eat on a plane grown?

Starting in September, the answer for passengers on Singapore Airlines’ passengers leaving Newark for Singapore will be “indoors, nearby.”

Singapore Airlines is working with indoor vertical farming company AeroFarms, which has reclaimed an abandoned steel mill in an industrial area near Newark International Airport and transformed it into a 1-acre, indoor vertical farm.

The farm, which grows produce ‘aeroponically’ without soil, pesticides or sunlight, can produce the equivalent of 390 acres of locally grown produce with up to 30 harvests each year and will grow a customized blend of fresh produce for SIA’s Newark-to-Singapore flights starting in September 2019.

“Imagine boarding a plane and enjoying a salad harvested only a few hours before takeoff — literally the world’s freshest airline food,” said Antony McNeil, director of food and beverage for Singapore Airlines.  “The only way to get fresher greens inflight is to pick them from your own garden.”

Singapore Airlines shared examples of farm-to-flight dished business class and premium economy class passengers might be able to choose from on Newark to Singapore flights:  

Soy Poached Chicken:Pickled Ginger Vinaigrette, Zucchini Ribbons, with Sweet Potato Roesti, Soy Beans and AeroFarms Baby Pac Choi

The Garden Green: Poached Asparagus, Broccolini, Avocado with Shaved Fennel & Flaked Hot Smoked Salmon, with AeroFarms medley of Baby Ruby Streaks, Watercress and Arugula, with Lemon Vinaigrette

As I reported last year in a farm-to-flight feature for USA TODAY, Singapore Airlines’ joins several other airlines in being super creative and eco about the food served on its flights.

Korean Air has its own company farm.

Jedong Ranch sits on 3,700 acres of South Korea’s lush Jeju Island and has been operating since 1972, when it was purchased by the former chairman of the airline’s parent company, the Hanjin Group.

Back then, South Korea had a beef shortage, so breeding livestock was the first order of business. Early on, the herd was made up exclusively of imported Angus cattle. Today the ranch is home to more than 2,200 head of prized, grass-fed Korean native cattle known as Hanwoo.

The organic, antibiotic-free meat from these animals, and from the farm’s flock of approximately 6000 free-range chickens, is sent to Korean Air’s flight catering kitchens in Seoul for use in meals served to first and business-class passengers. Some of the meat and eggs from the farm are also available, at premium prices, for purchase locally.

In addition to raising cows and chickens, the ranch’s hydroponic greenhouse also produces more than 210 tons of fruit and vegetables, including red peppers, cherry tomatoes and blueberries for   first and business class in-flight meals.

JetBlue’s garden at JFK

In 2015 JetBlue created a 24,000 square-foot milk-crate garden outside Terminal 5 at New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport. Designed to both create a welcoming green space and promote local agriculture, the garden generates more than 2,000 pounds of blue potatoes, kale, carrots, leeks, arugula, garlic, mint, basic and other herbs for local food banks. 

Japan Air Lines agritourism attraction

In 2010, Japan Air Lines is scheduled to open an agritourism attraction on land near Tokyo’s Narita International Airport. The ‘JAL Agriport’ will offer visitors a chance to pick strawberries, harvest sweet potatoes, picnic, or purchase fresh produce grown in the region. JAL says it also plans to use some agriport produce in lounge menus and in-flight meals.

And Emirates announced last year that it was joining with Crop One to build the world’s largest vertical farming facility near the airport in Dubai to help create a supply chain of “high quality and locally-sourced fresh vegetables, while significantly reducing our environmental footprint,”the airline said in a statement.  

A tasty trend for sure.

Airlines growing their own food? It’s a thing.

Airlines growing their own food? It’s a thing. Korean Air recently invited me to visit the company’s ranch in South Korea where they farm livestock,  chicken, veggies, fruit and bottle their own water to serve to passengers.

Other airlines have farming projects underway as well.

I have story – with lots of photos- from my farm visit on USA TODAY’s Today in the Sky. Here are some highlights of the story.

Back in 1972, when beef was in short supply in South Korea, the then chairman of Korea Air’s parent group bought a 3,700 acre ranch on South Korea’s Jeju Island.

Imported Angus cattle got things started, but now the herd is about 2,200 Korean native cattle known as Hanwoo.

Meat from these animals, and from the farm’s flock of approximately 6000 free-range chickens, is sent to Korean Air’s flight catering kitchens in Seoul for use in meals served to first and business-class passengers.

In addition to raising cows and chickens, the ranch also produces fruit, vegetables – and bottled water – for Korean Air passengers.

The water bottling plant at the ranch has been operating for 35 years and there they make and fill cups and bottles of the airline’s branded ‘Hanjin Jeju Pure Water.’  The water is pumped from 1,070 feet underground and filtered through layers of the island’s volcanic rock.

Other airlines explore agriculture

In 2015 JetBlue debuted a large milk-crate garden outside Terminal 5 at New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport. Potatoes, vegetables and herbs grown there are donated to local food banks.

Japan Air Lines is creating a ‘you-pick’ agritourism attraction on land near Tokyo’s Narita International Airport that is scheduled to open in 2020. The carrier hopes to add food grown on that farm to in-flight and lounge menus.

And Emirates is having the world’s largest vertical farming facility built near the Dubai airport.  At full production, the daily harvest from the the 130,000-square foot facility should be about three tons of pesticide-free leafy greens that will be used in many of the meals Emirates Flight Catering prepares for 105 airlines and 25 airport lounges.

 

Snaps from Korean Air’s farm on Jeju Island

Korean Air’s ranch on Jeju Island in Korea produces beef, chicken, vegetables and fruit for some of the meals served to passengers in first and business class. The airline also bottles its own mineral water.

I spent a day on the farm – and at the bottling plant – for a story that will appear later this month on USA TODAY, but sharing some snaps from the day here.

Jedong Ranch started raising livestock in 1973 with imported Angus. Today the herd is roughly 2000 Korean native cattle – Hanwoo – fed with on grass and grain from the ranch.

The ranch also raises about 6000 native chickens, selling fertilized eggs locally and providing chicken for in-flight meals.

Greenhouses on the ranch produce tons of bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and seasonal blueberries.

And the water plant bottles highly-regarded water that has been pumped from an underground well and filtered through basalt and volcanic stone.

Stay tuned fro more pictures and details from y day at the Korean Air ranch.

Southwest Airlines nixes peanuts starting August 1

Giving way to the concerns of passengers who have peanut allergies, Southwest Airlines has announced that, as of August 1, it will stop serving those tiny little packets of peanuts during flights.
“Peanuts forever will be part of Southwest’s history and DNA,” the airline said in a statement, “However, to ensure the best on-board experience for everyone, especially for customers with peanut-related allergies, we’ve made the difficult decision to discontinue serving peanuts on all flights beginning August 1.”
On its website, Southwest has told passengers with peanut allergies that if they made a note in their reservation, an effort would be made to make sure no peanuts would be served on their flights. But that didn’t always work out.
Other airlines stopped serving peanuts long ago, but for Southwest peanuts are part of the company’s branding. The airline is often “nuts” about this or that and has a quarterly newsletter called “In a Nutshell.”
Starting next month, the airline hopes passengers will pleased with the pretzels that continue to be served on flights, along with the other free snacks distributed on longer flights.

“Our ultimate goal is to create an environment where all customers—including those with peanut-related allergies—feel safe and welcome on every Southwest flight,” Southwest said in its statement.

Airline food that’s out of this world

When astronauts do a stint on the International Space Station they may request and bring along “bonus” snacks and meals for special occasions.

This summer, passengers departing on Lufthansa’s long-haul flights from Germany can “Eat like an astronaut” by ordering one of the dishes, Chicken Ragout with Mushrooms, that the airline’s kitchens prepared for German European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst, who set out for the International Space Station (ISS) on June 6.

Keeping in mind the special requirements of space food – i.e. that it will be consumed in zero gravity – Lufthansa says its LSG Group Culinary Excellence Team worked with the European Space Agency to provide six special meals for Gerst and the Horizons mission.

“The collection includes typical dishes from the astronaut’s home region, Swabia, such as Maultaschen and Spätzle,” said Lufthansa in a statement, “In order to ensure that the meals fulfilled the specific health and safety requirements of the mission, the LSG Group team designed them as low sodium and able to maintain a shelf life of two years.”

Not flying Lufthansa this summer? Through late October, the business premier menu on Air New Zealand flights from Los Angeles to Auckland will include the popular vegetarian hamburger called the Impossible Burger.

Courtesy Air New Zealand

“Impossible Burger’s magic ingredient is an iron-containing molecule called heme which comes from the roots of soy plants,” notes ANZ, “The heme in the Impossible Burger is the same as the heme found in animal meat. The result is a plant-based burger patty that cooks, smells and tastes like beef but contains no animal products whatsoever.”

Sounds like space food to me.